Nassau to Warderick Wells January 25- 30, 2006

Click on the above thumbnail for a map of points visited during this time period.

We made it to the Exumas...

We had a pleasant passage to Nassau but the weather forecast was for only one more nice day before the winds picked up again.   Thus, we had to make good use of our one afternoon in Nassau to re-provision.  Unfortunately, the dockmaster at the our Nassau Yacht Haven Marina had a power problem.  No one could make a decision but him, and he was completely unorganized.  We had to wait in the harbor for almost 30 minutes before he could find us a place to dock.  But at least the dock master and a couple of dock hands were there when we got there.  Many other boats were told to find themselves a slip as the dockmaster was busy at the fuel dock.  Other than that, everyone was very friendly and helpful.  We rushed off to get supplies and made numerous trips to the local shopping center. We were able to find most of what we needed, but paid almost double what we would have paid in the States.  I guess when you think of all the transportation costs in getting things shipped to the islands, you can understand why the increase in prices - but double!

We had dinner at the Poop Deck with our traveling companions on Seaclusion and Dream Weaver.  We had planned to go to Atlantis (the famous casino resort with a massive aquarium) that evening, but were too tired and most of us had been there on a previous trip.  Paul on Dream Weaver had cracked a tooth the day before and had a dentist appointment scheduled for early the next morning.  We expected that he would have to get a crown and be there a few days.  Since Pat and Ted on Seaclusion were planning to spend a few days on Nassau, we decided to get an early start the next day and head to Allen's Cay, one of the northern islands in the Exumas.  Fortunately, we reread one of the emails from Cocoon (Phyllis and Tom, who were already in the Exumas) and they had advised us not to go to Allen's if there was much wind forecast.  Also, we befriended the folks next to us at the marina (on a trawler named Pendragon) and they also suggested we rethink our destination.  Dalton on Pendragon suggested we head to Norman's Cay, which has a more protected anchorage.   That sounded good,  as we would be there for a number of day because of the front coming in that night bringing high winds.  We said our farewells to Seaclusion and Dream Weaver (expecting them to catch us in two or three days) and headed southeast following Pendragon.  When we were several hours out, we were surprised to hear from Paul on the VHF that he had gotten his tooth repaired, and that Ted and Pat had changed their minds about staying in Nassau -- so they were all on their way south too.

We found Norman's Cay to be a nice place.  It was once infamous, since it was the base during the late 1970's and early 1980's of a very profitable cocaine smuggling operation.   The only remains now are an abandoned air strip, some buildings with bullet holes from the showdown, and the wreck of an airplane that rests in the anchorage.   Just to the south of the anchorage there is a tiny island with one palm tree.   The island looks very much like the archtypical deserted island upon which folks get stranded after a boat wreck.  We explored the area by dinghy and discovered the single restaurant and small resort were closed, the owners having been killed in an airplane accident.  That seems to be a hazard of traveling to the islands.  When we arrived at our anchorage a friendly neighbor came over in his dinghy with his glass bottom bucket to check our anchor for us.  We realized that the glass bottom bucket was a handy item we did not bring along.  It is on our list though.  In the meantime we will have to put on a mask and swim / snorkel over the anchor to ensure it is set well.  Of course, we are not used to doing this because we have mostly boated in waters where you cannot see the bottom.  It's nice to be able to add this safety feature.  Our anchorage semi-protected us from the wind for the first two days, but as the wind clocked to the east on the third day we swung into a sand bar at low tide in the middle of the night.  We tried putting out a stern anchor to starboard to pull us off, but after dinghying around to drop an anchor in 25 knot winds in the dark of the night and having that effort not succeed due to lack of scope, we gave up and waited for the rising tide. 

The next morning we were ready to leave and find some better shelter from the 25 to 30 knot winds.  We decided to head to the west side of Norman's or into a western anchorage on Shroud Cay.   Seaclusion and Dream Weaver were considering heading to Warderick Wells, but agreed to head to Shroud Cay with us.  Because it was less than five miles and the wind was so strong, we decided to tow the dinghies the short distance.  While underway a call was made to Warderick Wells to make a reservation for the three boats and when they had space for us today, a decision was made to press on the additional 20 miles to the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  Actually the guys made the decision, although Chuck was reluctant and Barb did not agree with it.  After a few more miles the seas really kicked up and we were slamming into six to seven foot seas with the dinghies bouncing all over.  When the dinghy on Dream Weaver came loose and Paul had to risk his life  retrieving it, Barb spent much of the rest of the trip muttering and cursing about sticking to her guns next time.   Luckily, all ended up well and the trawlers were safely moored in the Park at Warderick Wells shortly after noon.  We spent the afternoon exploring a bit of the island, including a walk up to the peak of "Boo Boo Hill", where cruisers for years have been leaving pieces of driftwood emblazoned with their boat names.   Later we prepared a snack and took it and our drinks to the traditional Saturday sundown beach "happy hour" party hosted by the Park (they provide ice), where we chatted (and nibbled and drank) until well after dark with the owners of the other vessels moored in the Park anchorage.   Most of those vessels are sailboats, by the way, and most of the owners are Canadian.

Atlantis

Haitians (?) being pulled over

Beautiful tropical island near Norman's Cay

Paul and Karin at Norman's

Anchorage at Norman's

Plane wreck at Norman's

Paul flying a kite at Norman's

Pat and Ted returning from a dinghy excursion

Anchorage at Warderick Wells (Exuma Land and Sea Park)

Exuma Land and Sea Park

52' Whale skeleton from 1972

Trail to Boo Boo Hill

Chuck at Boo Boo Hill

Chuck on Boo Boo Beach

Barb reading guide on trail

Resting on the path

Diehards at the happy hour bonfire gathering